Employment of Children

Employment of Children : NS Labour and Advanced Education, Employment Rights

The Labour Standards Code has rules about when children may be employed in Nova Scotia. The laws about the employment of children do not apply to people who are 16 years and over.  

The law generally divides children into two groups: those under 14 and those under 16.


Children Under 14

It is against the law to pay wages to a child under the age of 14 to do work that:

  • is likely to be unwholesome or harmful to the child's health or normal development
  • is likely to keep the child out of school or make it hard for the child to learn at school

It is against the law to employ a child under 14 to do work:

  • for more than 8 hours a day
  • for more than 3 hours on a school day unless a certificate has been issued under the Education Act to allow the child to work
  • for any time during the day when that time plus the time the child is in school adds up to more than 8 hours
  • between the hours of 10 pm of any day and 6 am of the next day


Children Under 16

The Labour Standards Code says that no one is to employ a child under the age of 16 in certain types of work, such as:

  • mining
  • manufacturing
  • construction
  • forestry
  • work in garages and automobile service stations
  • work in hotels
  • work in billiard rooms, pool rooms, bowling alleys or theatres


Children Working in Restaurants

Employers may employ children aged 14 and 15 to work in restaurants provided they make sure these employees:

  • are not operating cooking equipment
  • are provided with safety training on all equipment and
  • are provided with adequate supervision



The rules regarding children under 16 years of age not being allowed to work in the types of businesses identified previously do not apply to a situation where an employer employs a 14 or 15 year old member of their own family. However, an employer who employs a family member under the age of 14 must still comply with the rules outlined previously for children under 14.


Liability of a Parent or Guardian

Any parent or guardian of a child whose employment violates the Labour Standards Code can be fined unless they can prove that the child worked without their knowledge.


Making a Complaint

Complaints about employers hiring under aged children are treated as priority complaints by Labour Standards.  If you have concerns about the employment of under aged children, please contact Labour Standards immediately.




What is cooking equipment?

Cooking equipment is equipment used to prepare food by heating: e.g., stoves, deep fryers, grills, ovens, etc.


How can I find out more about safety and safety training?

For more information on children working in restaurants, safety and safety training see these websites.